Why My Fitness Journey isn’t Actually Anything Like a Journey (My Fitness Journey – Vertex Fitness Diary 8)
I hate the word “journey”. I really do.
I’m all for improving yourself, building good habits, busting bad ones, and living your life a little more deliberately. But I don’t like to describe that process as a “journey”. (Even though I’ve been literally doing that in the title of every one of these diary posts.) Do you know why?
Because “journey” sounds like it’s going to be magical and fun the whole time. Like Frodo and his buddies roaming around, taking in the beautiful sights, eating magical elf bread, and having a grand old time. But journeys aren’t usually like that. Sometimes your best friend almost gets eaten by a spider, your buddies get abducted by orcs, and you might get stabbed by a ringwraith.
Building any good habit is like that. Completing a strength training program is like that. You’re going to start out with loads of enthusiasm and pride in yourself for your good choices, but it’s going to get hard along the way. If you go into it understanding that there will be times that you don’t like it, you can rally and keep with it anyway. Like those last two reps on the leg press, when you’re in a Jesus-take-the-wheel kind of mood. Like you kind of want to slap your trainer when he says “You’ve got this!” and you’re pretty sure that you ABSOLUTELY DO NOT GOT THIS. But then you get it anyway. And you feel great. And you don’t quit, because you knew this bump was coming.
You can’t start a strength training program expecting to love it the whole time. You’re not even going to want to do it the whole time. Our lizard brains can’t see the 1000 ft view of how the individual sessions are helping to build you into a greater whole. Your lizard brain wants to conserve all of your calories in case you don’t find a berry bush on the drive home and starve. Your lizard brain is pretty sure that the slight discomfort you feel when you hit muscle fatigue is pretty much the same thing as dying and you should stop now, please. But a million years of evolution have made it possible for you to understand that the thing you aren’t particularly enjoying right this second will be over in about ten seconds, and the benefits of doing it will last for years.
You know what else is different between a fitness habit and an actual journey? You can clearly see your progress the entire time on an actual journey. You can see the scenery change before your eyes, you can look back and see how far you’ve come, and you can look forward and prepare for the challenges ahead.
With a fitness habit, you’re only going to look around you after putting in some serious hours and realize that you left the Shire without even noticing. You WILL notice a difference–but not after your first session. It’s gradual, and it’s your own body that will be changing. One day, I realized that I was carrying the full watering can with one hand now, instead of both arms. The other day, I caught site of myself in the mirror while I bent over to pick something up, and I noticed that my abs had some definition. When I’m hiking or walking with a group, I’m usually the last one to fatigue now. These are the little milestones that will tell you that you’ve made progress.
So, no, I’m not on a fitness journey. I might be on a road trip. It’s occasionally uncomfortable, it is sometimes boring, there are some strange smells, but it’s going to be so worth it when I get where I’m going.